To cater for the spiritual needs of the pioneers and colonists who arrived into Glenelg (see my separate reviews) aboard the HMS Buffalo in 1836, not only did Governor elect Hindmarsh bring with him from England a chaplain, Charles Beaumont Howard (appointed Colonial Chaplain), he also brought his own prefabricated church.
Unfortunately the wood for the building had deteriorated on its long voyage to Australia and, according to one account, one Sunday the front pews collapsed leaving many dignitaries, including the Governor, lying flat on their backs. The building was quickly discarded and today only one window of this ‘flat pack church’ has survived (pictured below). It is on display within the current church where it can be viewed, together with the church’s original bible and prayer book (pictured below) which also arrived on the HMS Buffalo in 1836. Other accounts suggest that the ‘flat pack church’ was never built.
In either event, until a proper church could be constructed early services were held on the foreshore at Glenelg (now a beach-side resort) and later on the banks of the Torrens River.
The foundation stone for this, the first Anglican church in South Australia, was laid by Governor Hindmarsh on 26 January 1838 and the building was completed not long thereafter. In fact, the first service, a baptismal, was conducted in the church on 21 July 1838 while workmen were still constructing the roof. Records indicate that in celebration of the new church (or was it the newly baptised?) those assembled ‘addressed a cold collation of pork, chicken, plum pudding, gooseberry pie, custard and pear tart and drank port, sherry, and ale’.
The most striking feature of the original building and still a major feature of today’s church is the clock built into the main tower. This clock was built by Vulliamy, clock maker to King William IV, as the town clock for Adelaide which it duly became, though as part of the church as opposed to a town hall or other civic building. The site of the church was hand picked by Colonel William Light (Surveyor General for the colony of South Australia) who intended it to be the centre of Adelaide.
The original, poorly constructed, church which incorporated a spire atop the tower was rebuilt, without the spire, in 1844-45 (picture 4 – credit to the National Trust) and became Adelaide’s first cathedral in 1847 with the appointment of Bishop Augustus Short. It remained the city’s cathedral until firstly Christ Church, North Adelaide and then St Peter’s Cathedral were opened.
In addition to the artifacts dating back to 1836 (including bible and prayer book depicted above), the church contains many other reminders of its links to the State’s early settlers including memorial plaques to Captain Charles Sturt and Sir James Fisher (Resident Commissioner). A number of early church records, including parish registers, are held in the State Library of South Australia, located further up North Terrace.
Over the years the church has had a number of renovations and extensions and received its current Victorian Gothic style in an 1889 renovation. The current 1,299 pipe organ was installed in 1958 while the fine looking three panel stain glass widow above the altar was dedicated in 1937 to commemorate the first 100 years of Holy Trinity Church.
The church is generally open (outside services) for viewing Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. Check-in at the adjacent office on arrival.